2013 Annual Banquet and Conference
The Middle East Institute’s 67th Annual Banquet, Conference, and Luncheon
November 14-15, 2013
Capital Hilton Hotel
Nearly three years after the protests that marked the start of the Arab Awakening, instability and violence in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia have led many citizens to raise questions about the consequences of revolution. Many now yearn for a return to normalcy. They find themsevles in a struggle to forge new cultural, political, and national identities in the midst of a period of historic and uncharted transition.
Relgious identity has emerged as a focal point of the uprisings as political Islam has become a divisive factor in a bitter, deeply polarized, and all too often deadly political climate. The ruling Islamist parties have seen a dramatic reversal of fortune after a brief foray in the spotlight in Egypt and Tunisia.
National identity remains elusive in the Levant, where sprawling political and sectarian conflict and an historic humanitarian crisis spill acrosss historically arbitrary borders and threaten stability in the broader region. With leadership often gridlocked by complex politics, courageous individuals have banded together to help put their communities onto a better path, demonstrating that people-to-people contact can build understanding and reconciliation. An example of such a citizen-based effort is "Breaking the Impasse." This is an intitiative launched by Israeli and Palestinian business leaders to promote economic growth and build the foundation for peace.
And, of course, no one understands the struggle for identity like the young people of the Arab world. Since youth movements first sparked the Arab revolts in 2011, their leaders have had time to see their dreams challenged in way they never could have expected. Some have become political leaders themselves in hopes of effecting change directly, while other seek a new way forward after seeing their movements co-opted and ideals abandoned.
The Middle East's crisis of identity has also posed immense challenges to the United States. U.S. foreign policy has struggled to keep pace with shifting governments, regional crises, and complex geopolitical alliances, and how these changes impact U.S. national security interests.
MEI's 67th Annual Conference brought together panels composed of prominent experts and foreign policy practicioners to delve into the many vexing questions and challenges that have come to the fore in the almost three years of unprecedented change for the Middle East. By engaging a cross section of views through high-level debate, analysis, and dialogue, the Conference sought to contribute to a greater understanding of the region.
Please use the links below to find more information, including videos, photos and transcripts from each of the Conference events.